Award-winning author and classicist Charles Packard of Camden offers an English rhymed-verse translation of the 1509 Latin prose masterpiece “The Praise of Folly” of Dutch monk and scholar Desiderius Erasmus. Packard’s “The Praise of Folly: A Rhymed English Verse Version of the Original Latin Prose,” published via iUniverse, was produced as a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of this enduring work’s creation.

The self-published translation, available in both hard and soft cover, comprises the first half of an upcoming complete edition.

“I am currently about 60 percent through Volume 2, which, when done, will be combined with Volume 1 in a complete edition of the work, probably about a year from now,” said Packard.

Packard’s unusual translation has gotten good critical notice. Classical Outlook’s poetry editor termed it astoundingly clever, and the Kirkus Review called it a smart, contemporary translations of Erasmus’ timeless text — “an innovative, ingenious update.”

The volume serves as a way to get to know Erasmus, a man who dared to go up against the teachings and structure of the church proper by placing emphasis on the human being, foibles and all. To do so, he imagined the goddess Folly, who wears both a scholar’s gown and a jester’s cap. She maintains, using outrageous satirical humor, that she is the driving force behind human and godly happiness, from birth to death.

Erasmus wrote that “a truth of itself somewhat harsh, if presented in an entertaining fashion, more easily finds its way to men’s hearts.” Packard’s humorous translation enables the satire of the 16th century to point out the weaknesses and foibles of mankind still present in the 21st century.

Packard studied classical languages at Bowdoin College and Harvard University. After teaching Latin at Middlesex School; and Philips Academy, he became an English editor at Random House and then moved to McGraw-Hill, where he became chief editor/secondary English. While there, and later, he wrote more than 30 English textbooks for middle and high school students, covering topics ranging from figurative language to functional (academic) writing.

Packard’s rhymed-verse versions of Caesar, Horace and Erasmus have appeared in The Classical Journal and The Classical Outlook, but “The Praise of Folly” is his first venture into literary fiction. He recently retired as a teacher of Latin and English at the Watershed School in Rockland. For more information, visit

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